Interactive TV News Round-Up (II): Online Video Upfronts, NICTA, Banyan, 7Echo, Facebook

--AOL, Digitas, Google/YouTube, Hulu, Microsoft, Yahoo! Launch Upfronts for Digital Content
--Australian Government Researchers Develop Social-TV/Programming-Recommendation Platform
--Banyan Productions, 7Echo Launch Interactive Reality Travel Show for Facebook

Because the [itvt] editorial team has been working on The TV of Tomorrow Show 2012, we are covering stories in this issue in round-up/summary format.

  • AOL, Google/YouTube, Hulu, Microsoft Advertising and Yahoo! have teamed with advertising agency, Digitas, to launch upfronts for online video and other forms of digital media. Dubbed the Digital Content NewFronts (DCNF), the upfronts aim "to shape a new and practical marketplace for connecting the wealth of native digital content with brand marketers and their media and marketing agencies," the companies state in their press materials. "Each founding partner will host an independent event during a designated two-week period from April 19th-May 2nd, 2012. All events will take place in New York City...There is no fee to attend the NewFronts. Each event is invitation-only and will be managed independently by the host company...The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) will also actively participate with DCNF, hosting collateral events and forums throughout the two-week period at the IAB Ad Lab. In keeping with the trade group's mission to foster the growth of the interactive advertising marketplace, the IAB will be welcoming companies from across the ecosystem to be involved, establishing DNFC as an inclusive, industry-wide event." Said Hulu's SVP of advertising, JP Colaco: "Today, the word 'TV' has taken on new meaning--as a bar for quality of storytelling. The use of the word 'TV' no longer refers to a piece of hardware. We are investing in smart and distinctive content--compelling storytelling is what makes great TV. We seek content that is beloved by our users. Strong content combined with the effectiveness of the Hulu platform, allows advertisers and creators to connect very directly with highly engaged audiences who are extremely passionate about these shows." More information on the schedule of NewFronts events, as well as on the composition of the NewFronts steering committee, is available here.
  • The Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation (ACBI) has developed a technology that overlays on the TV screen Twitter and Facebook discussions about the program currently being watched and also recommends other programs, based on previous viewing behavior and on what the viewer's Facebook friends are watching, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Thursday. According to the newspaper, the ACBI will begin trials of the technology in June, hopes to integrate it onto existing connected-TV platforms, and is also considering developing set-top boxes that employ the technology and that would be spun off into commercial products. "It's all about integrating TV content with Facebook and Twitter so you can see what your friends have watched, see what they're watching and chat to them about it," Sebastien Ardon, social-TV project leader at ACBI's parent organization, NICTA, told the Sydney Morning Herald. "We have basically live tweets over shows, so if you're watching an episode of any program and someone tweets about it, then you'll be able to see that tweet on the screen live--if that's what you want--on top of the video."
  • Banyan Productions, the company behind TLC's "Trading Spaces," has teamed with 7Echo, a company that bills itself as "enabl[ing] friends to connect within and as part of interactive TV shows that are delivered through social networks," to launch "On the Map," an interactive reality travel show for Facebook, which the companies say "allows audience members to connect and be inside the show with their friends, and alter their viewing experience through their interactions...The show is built on a social connectivity, dynamic content and advertising platform called PIE (Personal Interactive Entertainment) developed by 7Echo to create this first-of-its-kind show," the companies' press materials continue. "The show's presenting sponsor is HTH Worldwide, a global specialty healthcare information and services company. Shot on location in Barcelona, Spain--including the city's famed La Merce Festival--'On the Map' follows seven young people and combines experiential storytelling with innovative digital techniques to create an interactive online adventure. Users interact with their Facebook friends by inviting six core friends to be 'inside' the show with them, answering questions about each other relative to the episodes and exchanging virtual souvenirs. As the show progresses through 12 episodes, users' interactions become more involved and the show becomes more personalized, based on their behavioral traits...The first four episodes of 'On the Map Barcelona' are available at https://apps.facebook.com/onthemapsevenecho and new episodes will be released weekly through April 19." Said 7Echo founder and CEO, David Russek: "Until now, 'Social TV' has been defined by 'check-in' applications, where users connect with each other while watching a static TV show. 'On the Map' takes the social experience further by putting audience members and their Facebook friends inside the show together and creating a customized viewing experience. Depending on how a user interacts with the show through their actions and those of their friends, there are over 60 digital elements that can be delivered and blended into scenes."
Region: 
North America